Musicians union plans to leaflet orchestra’s Broward Center concert
Musicians’ union members plan to distribute leaflets at a concert Friday night in Fort Lauderdale of the South Florida Symphony to protest the struggling orchestra’s failure to pay musicians for previous concerts.
Jeffrey Apana, secretary-treasurer of Local 655 of the American Federation of Musicians, said the orchestra still owes musicians about $25,000 in wages and travel costs for concerts last season. He said the orchestra recently made payments to musicians of $200.
“For many musicians that’s a drop in the bucket when they’re owed $1,000,” he said. “We’ve heard from some people who have been paid in full. We’ve heard from many more who are owed in the $200 to $800 to $1,000 range.”
The orchestra made a well-received debut last year but cancelled the rest of its season amid accusations by musicians of unpaid bills. It has since held a series of chamber concerts to raise money, and this season has scheduled a four-program series of symphony concerts at venues in the Florida Keys, Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach County.
Sebrina Maria Alfonso, the orchestra’s conductor, said in an interview Thursday that the orchestra has worked hard to pay off debts to musicians. Of the $77,000 or so originally owed, she said the orchestra has paid off all but $27,000 and is continuing to raise money to pay off the rest.
“It’s an unfortunate situation and I feel horrible,” she said. “It’s not something that I take lightly.”
She said orchestra officials have asked to meet with the union’s leaders but were rebuffed. And she said she couldn’t understand why the union was targeting the orchestra when it was trying to pay its debt and represents a source of employment for musicians in difficult economic times.
“With all these orchestras crumbling, it’s a shame that musicians are trying to bring down our organization,” she said. “This orchestra, as it begins to be a regional-based orchestra, is going to provide jobs.”
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Fri Dec 2, 2011
at 12:01 am